Flag Day recognizes symbol of nation's history, sacrifices

Published: Jun. 13, 2017 at 10:16 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 14, 2017 at 8:52 PM CDT
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(KSLA) - June 14, 2017 marks the 241st birthday of our national flag.

While no one knows for sure who designed the first stars and stripes or who made it, the first official national flag was established by the Continental Congress on June 17, 1777:

Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.

What would become the Flag Day we know today began long before President Woodrow Wilson officially recognized the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 with a proclamation in 1916. It was not until President Harry Truman signed a Congressional resolution in 1949 that the date was designated each year as National Flag Day.

Flag Day has become an observance and celebration of respect for "Old Glory," not just as a symbol of the nation's history but as a symbol of the freedom it represents and the sacrifices made to protect it.

The U.S. Flag Code formalizes and unifies the traditional ways in which we give respect to the flag, and also contains specific instructions on how the flag is not to be used. They are:

  • The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
  • The flag should not be used as a drapery, or for covering a speakers desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.
  • The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard
  • The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.
  • The flag should never have placed on it, or attached to it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind.
  • The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.

When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.

The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.

When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.

Most American Legion Posts regularly conduct a dignified flag burning ceremony, often on Flag Day, including the Lowe MacFarlane American Legion Post 14 at 5315 South Lakeshore Drive in Shreveport.

The solemn U.S. Flag Retirement Ceremony was be held at the post on Wednesday afternoon.

Each year, the American Legion retires hundreds of U.S. Flags that are no longer serviceable. They say parents are encouraged to bring their children to this patriotic event so they may witness the courtesy, respect and honor rendered to non-serviceable flags that previously had flown in honor to the United States of America.

Click here to read more about the history of Old Glory.

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